Only once in my life have I ever been truly, completely, and wholly infatuated by a woman. Friend, after meeting her, I could not get her off my mind. When I closed my eyes, I saw her face. It was as if her voice whispered as the gentle wind passed. Her smile was in the sunset. Her face was in the glorious sunrise. Try as I might, I could not keep from longing for her. I remember telling God that, without her, my life would not be worth living.
I was her prisoner. Never before and never since has a woman held me captive. I was her slave, her servant, her captive, her lackey, her chattel, her property.
I would imagine this is how the Apostle Paul felt about Jesus. After years of mere religion steeped in ritualism and bound by a Law he could not keep, Paul fell in love with the living, resurrected, glorious Savior.
Paul was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. Once he had encountered Jesus, he could think of none other. Of his past, he compared his learning, his credentials, his accomplishments, and the rituals of Judaism to animal dung (Philippians 3:8).
I spent four years teaching in a men's prison. The prisoners I met did not want to be prisoners. The men I knew longed to be free. They dreamed of the day they would walk through the prison gates. Some of the men I taught knew they would die in prison. To think one will never again breathe the air of freedom must be wearisome--even terrifying.
Paul was captivated by Jesus. Paul was our Lord Jesus' prisoner. This condition did not grieve Paul. On the contrary, only as a prisoner of Jesus Christ did Paul discover what true freedom really is.
As I near the close of my earthly life, the more captivated by Jesus I become. Everyone is a slave or a prisoner to some object or some person or some idea. There are people who are prisoners of their own greed. They are captive to their insatiable lusts for wealth and an unholy desire for materialism. Others are prisoners of a leader, an idol, a hero, or a romantic interest. Others, still, are prisoners of some ridiculous form of ideology. Their thinking is held captive by corrupt indoctrination or the nonsensical incongruities of political correctness. There are slaves to alcohol, heroin, and cocaine. There are captives of pornography. Others are fettered and chained by haunting doubts and nightmarish fears. And everyone who does not have Jesus as Savior is a prisoner to sin.
So, friend, we are all prisoners. We are all held captive by something or someone.
But when we surrender to Jesus and become His prisoner, He gives us our freedom. We give ourselves to Him and, in return, He gives our selves back to us.
Paradoxical? Yes, but anyone who is truly a prisoner of Jesus Christ knows this to be true.